Theories of Learning
open access articles on nursing theories and models
Theories of Learning
Learning theories refers to theoretical frameworks which try to explain how people and animals learn, thereby helping us understand the inherently complex process of learning.
Learning refers to “a persisting change in human performance or performance potential brought about as a result of the learner’s interaction with the environment”
There are three main categories of learning theories:
Behaviorism -focuses only on the objectively observable aspects of learning.
Cognitive theories - look beyond behavior to explain brain-based learning.
Constructivism - learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts.
First explained by B. F. Skinner
Ivan Pavlov - Classical Conditioning Theory
Refers to observable and measurable behavior
Three basic assumptions of behaviourism are:
Learning is manifested by a change in behavior.
The environment shapes behavior.
The principles of contiguity and reinforcement.
Classical Conditioning - Pavlov
Operant Conditioning - Skinner
Cognitive theories consider the thought process behind the behavior.
It states changes in behavior as indicators to what is happening inside the learner's mind.
Cognitive theories make two basic assumptions:
Memory system is an active organized processor of information and
Prior knowledge plays an important role in learning.
Jean Piaget, John Dewey
" learners construct knowledge for themselves from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas"
Constructivism explains learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts based upon current and past knowledge or experience.
Constructivism focuses on preparing the learner to problem solve in ambiguous situations.
Learning theories gives a general explanation for how people learn.
These theories are applied in educational psychology, curriculum development, instructional methodology.
Chauhan SS. Advanced educational psychology. 5th edition. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House PVT LTD; 1993.
Mangal SK. Educational psychology. 8th edition. Ludhiana: Prakash Brothers Educational Publisher’s; 1990.
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